Considering buying BL4 but a bit concerned

As a non-technical person I’m a bit nervous about starting again with my website by buying BL4.
I bought CE4 (and had previous CE versions) just before BL1 came out - bad timing. I didn’t find it very intuitive to build the website but I persevered and the Community pages were very helpful. I got there in the end and have been really pleased with the website - particularly the integration with Lightroom via the publisher.
I’d normally not consider an upgrade except that the php on Bluehost has been upgraded to 7.2 and killed my galleries. Bluehost won’t backdate the php version for me.
So, a few questions if I may before I decide to purchase BL4:

  • Should I stay with Bluehost or better with another host? I was alarmed in the Docs pages on this site about the number of workarounds to various Bluehost issues. If not Bluehost which host?

  • The intro instructions say I need a FTP. I’m not aware I needed one for CE4. I used to just go to Finder>Go>Connect to Server>https://boxXXXX.bluehost.com:XXXX and then I could drag and drop files. Is that the same as FTP? Can I use the same method with the same XXXX numbers or do I need to buy or download another FTP.

  • I note there are some upgrade instructions from CE4 to BL but also note that lots of things in CE4 are not upgradable. It isn’t clear to me what part of my website will transfer and what won’t. Happy to start afresh on the design if necessary.

  • I read that BL4 does not like virtual copies from Lightroom because of naming conventions. That could be a red line for me as I use lots of virtual copies that I drag into LR publisher for CE4. What are the consequences?

  • If I make the leap can I add the shopping cart later or better to do everything together?

  • If I do make the leap to BL4 where is the best place to start with set up instructions given that I have CE4 on Bluehost?

Any advice gracefully received.
Martin
Mac mini (latest OS), Lightroom Classic (latest version), Bluehost.
Current CE4 website is www.martinchamberlain.com but you’ll see that the galleries don’t work.

I’ll try to answer at least some of your questions

Bluehost: I use Bluehost and have not come across any of the issues mentioned. And those issues aren’t necessarily unique to Bluehost. For the mail part, I have email addresses tied to my domain name and those accounts were set up in Bluehost, so I don’t have any issues with mail not being delivered.

FTP: you just need a way to upload files to the server. What you were doing should work fine.

Moving from CE4 to Backlight: Since you were using Publisher, you’ll be able to migrate any albums and album sets created with CE4 Publisher to Backlight control.
If you’re using CE4 Cart, you can migrate your products, etc. to Backlight.

What won’t migrate are your individual pages (About, Contact, Info, Home, etc.) But you should already have the text for those in Lightroom. Just copy and paste into new Backlight pages.

You will definitely need to start from scratch with design. But designing in Backlight is way, way, way easier and more efficient than designing in the Lightroom Web Module.

Shopping Cart can be added at any time.

Set up: the documentation should be enough. I’ve set up several sites using Bluehost without any problems.
But if you want some tips and strategies about migrating from CE4 to Backlight, I have something here:

https://ttg-tips-and-tricks.barbeephoto.com/converting-a-publisher-based-ce4-site-to-backlight/

But if you don’t need a specific design or branding in place right away, the easiest thing to do is to just use either the default Backlight design or grab one of the pre-made templates Matt has made available. After that you can start designing using non public pages. Once you’re satisfied, it’s really easy to apply your design to the whole site.

Virtual Copies: They will publish, but I also have some confusion over the file naming convention. I’ve asked Ben about it.

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On Bluehost, the reason for the docs page having a list of workarounds was because TTG previously supported Bluehost as a first class citizen. We strongly recommended Bluehost based on our own personal experience, so went to great lengths to provide support specific to that host. It’s not a reflection of the quality of Bluehost.

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Martin,
I had your problems and fears this past December. None of my galleries were working with my former host. In addition, I was getting nasty grams from google about my CE4 sites. I went kicking and screaming to BL3 because I was forced to, the last thing I wanted to do was build new websites for my photography business. I spent about a week playing with BL3 and the various plugins that I had in between clients. I am glad I made the switch! I decided to start from scratch and have built 3 sites. It is way faster than CE4 and the processing that had to be done with the long wait in Lightroom. The gallery integration is still there and works well. There are now plenty of videos to help with all aspects of building a site. I read most of the forum and have contacted Matt and Rod and received quick and concise answers. The learning curve is really not that bad, and it sure beats paying someone to build something that I have no control of. I am now on Blue Host, so from experience I say go for it!

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If you set up a file naming preset correctly, you can get results that will, for non-virtual copies, not change the filename, but for virtual copies can append Copy-1 to the filename.

I used this naming preset:

for this test album. The black and white is the virtual copy:

Officially, I think the template presets are now the best way to get started. With the newly updated presets, I personally like them far better as a starting place than the “blank slate” templates you’d be creating from scratch.

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Thank you Matthew, Rod, Ben, Gary. I’ve taken the plunge. I’ve purchased BL4. I’ll see you on the other side. I may be some time…

:grinning: We’ll be here! Have fun!